Using Twitter to tell the public that they are aware of the LTE outage this past week, is neither media relations nor public relations. It's hiding in plain sight. It's like a public company putting out news on a Friday afternoon, after the market closes. It's really about hoping the world doesn't learn of your problem.
As a Verizon Wireless customer, and as a member of the media and the media, pr and corporate communications world longer than most who 'tweet, 'book and blog, going to their media web site yields nothing about the outage. It's only found on their Twitter page now. The media web site is the first place one goes to see what the company has to say on a subject. Second is a Google search-which usually yields other people's coverage. and next would be the support page of their web site (which yields nothing using the phrase LTE outage.)
Sorry, but as a corporate customer with two LTE accounts, and many others, I would have hoped that for starters I would have been sent an email advising of the outage within hours of it happening. Why? It would have kept me from saying to my team, "your Verizon devices may not work until they fix the outage" when it only affected the 4G devices. A follow up email telling the customers "all is now fixed. We're giving you credit for our problem" would also be nice. But saying simply this on Twitter is not customer service, and it's far from media relations too. It's a complete and utter failure mostly because Verizon Wireless only wants to tell you what they want to tell you, like a retail store changed location in Missouri (wouldn't an email to the customers who are served by that store be more personal and impactful?) vs. posting a press release about the outage and the service restoration, with details.
That's it..no updates of note. No details. And really, no answers.
Even Network World's Brad Reed's story which had to rely on the Twitter updates for facts. Now, even a rookie in the media relations world knows that in the absence of any news from the comapny, the media, especially social media, will jump to their own conclusions. But I won't. It's not fair to speculate on what caused the outage, but it's also unfair of Verizon Wireless to not know how to communicate when they have a team of media relations folks to get the facts out.
As a example of great customer service, our hosted exchange provider, LanLogic.com emails us before they do any type of major upgrades, taking the servers offline in the middle of the night west coast time. When they suffer the rare outage, they immediately email us after the service is restored and explain precisely what occured and what steps were taken to correct things.
Now, let's look at how this outage and the recent Amazon Web Services outage are intertwined. In his Read Write Cloud article, entitled "Are Telcos Muscling In on The Cloud?" writer Klint Finley points out how the telcos are gobbling up cloud providers, and concentrating who ends up providing services to the Fortune 1000. Well just as Epsilon suffered a data breach with many of their client customers' consumer contact data being exposed, we're heading towards the same kind of issues with only the big telcos taking over the cloud companies.
In the USA we have the FCC in the administrative branch of government, the house and senate in legislative and the court system in the legal. My contention is that none of of those bodies are as well prepared for the lobbyists, laywers and technologists from the telcos, and as such as business owners and consumers, we're never going to see the value that would exist in a total free economy, where barriers to entry are legislated, not new ideas allowed to flourish in a truely open competitive model. The oligopoly of telecom, financial, and eventually legal will only weaken our nation.
Verizon Wireless just proved that a "blind" press is an ignorant press and as eWeek's Wayne Rash points out, by Verizon Wireless is taking the ostritch approach of burying their head in the sand, and hoping when the service is restored, so will be their customer's confidence too. But it's not. Rush contends both that the customer's trust is broken, and that Verizon Wireless failed to "serve the public interest." With consolidation so much a part of Verizon's business gameplan, not maintaining media or public trust is a cardinal sin and both media relations and public relations groups inside VZW are to blame.
Given we are no longer living in the world of the Internet being a "nice to have" for the enterprise, small business and consumers, it's time to look at how the information services are provided, regulated and managed. And that means choices. But with the consolidation approach going on by AT&T and Verizon it sure looks like choice and options are not really on the tip of anyone's honest speaking tounge. In the 1800's the American Indians said the "White man. He speak with forked tongue." So companies that claim they are open and doing things for the better, are likely closed and doing things that are for the worse.
Verizon as a company needs to come clean on this one. Too much is riding on 4G/LTE.